Needs More Training

April 26, 2015 at 10:06 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Friday morning, my commute gave me something to think about. I now have a theory that the conductors of the elevated trains are lonely and in need of companionship. What makes me think this? The Chicago Transit Authority conductor I had on my way into work.

It’s fairly normal for my train to run slowly and have frequent pauses between stations, especially in the mornings. That’s what happens when the tracks are old and twisted and you have trains backed up all the way to and from the loop, so it doesn’t concern me too much. If we end up sitting for 5 minutes and there’s no announcement then people start looking around like ‘WTF’ but usually the conductor will come on at that point and give us an update. My conductor today? Gave an update for every single delay – even those that lasted roughly 10 seconds. He must have been new or something because he went into more detail than I would have thought possible, i.e. telling us how many trains are in front of us and detailing how we couldn’t move until the one ahead moved first because if we did we would run the risk of hitting them and that would go against CTA policy. At first, I thought he was trying to be a smart ass but there was absolutely no hint of humor or irony in his voice; rather, he sounded like he was doing us the biggest favor in the world with these minute-by-minute updates. So every time we slowed down, we got to hear another announcement about how we would be moving in 10 seconds or so. This was especially annoying because most morning commuters like to make said commute in peace and quiet – having a voice constantly blaring through the train car completely destroys any chances of a relaxing commute.

Did I mention that CTA trains also have automated announcements to inform of us delays, door openings and closings and their policy regarding gambling? Because they do.

At least my conductor didn’t do this.


But then, I considered the fact that maybe the poor guy was just lonely. Conductors don’t typically have a lot of interaction with the commuters (unless one of them is sick or crazy or something and that’s not exactly the kind of interaction anyone wants). They usually stand at the front of the train and pull their various levers and whatnot to keep us moving, which is fine and dandy. But perhaps this guy wanted to feel more a part of the crowd and figured the best way to do that would be talking to us like we were the best of friends, or at least gave a shit about what he was talking about. It’s possible his goal was to annoy us all so much that someone would hit the call button to ask him to stop, which would be a prolonged human interaction. I almost got to that point myself, after all. It could have been a perfect storm of him being new to the job and wanting to over-inform rather than under-inform combined with him not being used to working such a solo type of position. So I should feel some compassion, right?

Nope. I’ve completely avoided trains because of annoying conductors before and I will absolutely do so again if need be. But maybe I’ll give him a long, overly detailed warning about it first.

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Have Train, Mouth Will Travel

January 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

As any consistent reader of my blog knows, riding public transportation can be quite entertaining and/or frustrating.  I’m constantly privy to other people’s bad taste in music, conversations and body odors and all for the low, low price of $100/month.  I was riding home Wednesday evening when some guy sat down across the aisle from me and continued his overly loud cell phone call.  Here are just a few things I learned before I got off at my stop:

  • Train Guy was on his way to see his girl.  They were getting dinner.
  • He drank way too much Miller High Life last weekend and had the worst hangover of his life.  Even worse than the one he had at David’s house last year.
  • He was bringing beer “for the big boys” to the upcoming Friday night party.  Corona, to be exact.
  • He didn’t want to drink as much this week and if he was going to take shots, he’d be taking them early in the night.  Whiskey.  However, he knew that Phone Dude #1 would be getting “SHIZ-FACED!”.
  • He wanted to know if  Phone Dude #1 (the host, apparently) had thought about “Boooo-duuuuh” (Buddha?  Boodah?  insert other spellings for marijuana here).  Because if not, Train Guy would gladly bring a blunt instead of the man-beer, Corona.  They could smoke it in the backyard.  So think about it.
  • He also loved Django Unchained and thinks “it’s the best Tarantino movie, like ever.  Gory as f*ck and SO GOOD.”

Close enough.

Those were the highlights from his first conversation.  Then he called whom I can only assume was his drug dealer:

  • Train Guy wanted to be picked up from work on Friday by Phone Dude #2 (aka the dealer).  He has Phone Dude #2’s money.  Also, Train Guy “wants to pick up….uhhh….ahhhh….” Then silence.  Then, “Did you get that, man?”  Yes, Train Dude.  We all got it.  You want more drugs.

That conversation didn’t go the way he wanted and he sounded let down/depressed/in withdrawal when he hung up the phone.  Then he made the last phone call that I heard before I hopped off the train (mind you, this all happened in about 20 minutes).  This was to his girlfriend (Phone Dudette #1).  I must note that I had to laugh when I heard his voice drop in pitch so he sounded older and more mysterious:

  • Poor Train Guy is tired.  He’s worked all day and taking the train alllll the way out to see his girlfriend for dinner is such a hassle.  He hopes she appreciates this.
  • He also wants to know the chances of her coming back to his place later that night.  Because if she’s not going to be around, he’s not going to sit at home alone and wants to know so he can make other plans.

Train Guy seems like a real catch.  I feel privileged that I got such a glimpse into his fascinating life, and I’m sure everyone else on the train that night felt exactly the same way.



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Open Wide

July 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I think I have the most chatty dental hygienist in the entire world.

No on has this much fun at the dentist.

I went in for my regular cleaning earlier this week and that woman scraped my teeth for damn near an hour, while talking my ear off the entire time.  She claimed it was a cleaning but I think it was more of a practice in ancient torture methods and I’m pretty sure her talkativeness was just another aspect of the routine.  Seriously, the military could learn a thing or two from her in extracting just about any type of information because by the end of the night I was willing to tell her I was the Queen of England wearing a Paige suit just to get her to leave me alone.

Here are some of the topics that I got to hear about while being stuck in a chair and having my mouth held open for a supremely uncomfortable amount of time: her bad back and the surgeries she’s had along with how her upbringing in Minnesota is to blame because she spent all her time pushing trucks out of ditches; how old she is and how much she wishes she was still my age; how much she doesn’t want kids, how she used to sneak out of her house all time growing up and how her family thinks her niece is talking to creepy men online so they sent her to live with her grandparents and she doesn’t know yet that she’s not going back; how technology is ruining our generation and how her trip up north was over the 4th of July week, which she booked off months ago; the recent heat wave and her favorite TV shows.  I think I’ve complained before about how dentists and their assistants talk when you can’t respond yet they somehow expect a response anyway – I think this one was content to prattle away regardless of whether or not I was listening.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t not listen and even the sound of her scraping metal against my teeth would’ve been preferable, if I could’ve just turned that up.  At one point she paused long enough to ask me if I did yoga and when I responded in the negative, she said it felt like I was doing some deep breathing exercises.  Little did she know that I was doing deep breathing so I could focus all of my energy on not biting off her fingers and spitting them in her eye.  I managed to make it though and was rewarded with an assurance of no cavities, along with floss and a toothbrush.  And luckily there’s six more months before my ears and teeth have to be subjected to torture again.


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